It's started early this year, the dinner party season! I'm stood next to someone who has already started to bore the hell out of me and it's only five minutes into the evening, Christ almighty, double glazing and the resultant saving in fuel has no interest to me, nor has the fact that if I turn down the heating by just one degree in our house, not only will I not notice the difference but our CO2 saving will save the planet for our children, so I cut the crap out of the conversation by saying in our house we have four open fires and a wood burning AGA in the kitchen, also my house is soooo big that I have to drive a 4X4 to the bathroom and also I keep cows. The missus was very quick on her feet as she nipped over and grabbed me by the arm and snatched me out to inform me to 'behave'. So I'm to behave.
I'm introduced to some more people, who look like they might be interesting, but alas nope; at this rate I'm losing all hope! With this couple, all they talk about is the housing market falling and mortgages, then how they are going to 'refinance' as so they're able to pay for the kids' school fees, as both of them had two jobs and also had a headload of grey hair. I behave some more and keep what I'm thinking in my head, which was 'Just where is your life?!' So I ask a question, I keep it a simple question because it needed to be, here goes 'So when do you stop working and play, either with the kids and/or, which I think is more important, each other?' there is silence from them, then a strange smile, then a look at each other, then and only then an answer, which was 'we're too busy, but I try to spend about an hour each night before they (the kids) are put to bed, if I'm home in time' said the mother. Crivvens, I thought, I really had to behave, I wanted to shout at her, really loudly and say stuff like 'you , you only have so much time, why waste it, yeah I know you have to work and yeah I know things cost a lot now, but why the hell do you waste the most single thing you can't replace'. I have talked and written about this before, I behave some more and politely seek an excuse to leave. 'Sorry, I have to have to pee where is the kitchen', I say, smiling, and start looking for the missus.
I find her chatting to her mates, girlies eh! Shoes apparently are the most important thing in the world and also you can't own enough of them. 'Are you behaving' she enquires and my response is 'yep, I'm behaving, and I could do with a cup of tea, too, as this wine is dull'´. 'So you think this wine is dull', a small squeaky voice pipes up. It's our hostess. 'Yeah and also it's ever so slightly.........' my shin is kicked quite hard by the missus with a 'Behave' chucked in for good measure and then 'There's nothing wrong with the wine, it's his way of getting out of dinner parties, for some strange reason as its got older the socializing part of its brain has petrified', says the missus with a demonic look which sears into me. The hostess responds with a knowing smile and a 'mine's the same' speech, then I get 'follow me' from the hostess 'I'm going to introduce you to someone you might get on with' speech! I follow.
Sat in a chair, in the garden is her bloke. He's quite bored and pulling at his shirt collar, his facial expression is of a man under stress, wanting to be somewhere else. I know I'm going to get on with this person. 'This is Jack, and like you he's a grumpy old sod!' his missus says. There's no answer, just a slight pause and then a point at an empty chair, then silence. 'Great I thought, ahh, like me, a Grand Master at work'. I pull out my newspaper and relax, ten minutes later he disturbs the silence with a 'Fancy a cup of tea?' and all this without looking up. Why not!' I reply. He waves at his missus, catches her attention and she comes out to us. 'While you're up, can we have a pot of tea for two, dear?!!!!' he asks. The look she gives him is so familiar to me, given to me by my missus just once or twice, but the pot duly arrives as the party moves into the second phase.
Again I have never understood the dinner party, the need for people to behave in such a contrived, conforming way, plainly very happy at sitting at a table, eating someone out of house and home, not able to take your dog's (GOD BLESS 'UM) with you, you have to dress in the most uncomfortable clothes, talk the smallest of small talk only to find, the only thing in common is you can't stand them; you can't leave, you hang in there, waiting. Phase two comes, which is the moving from the 'standing around in the lounge/front room/garden/conservatory'- chatting bit to the sitting in the 'dining room'. A small panic at this point as someone spills red wine on a cream carpet... and it's all hands to the pumps, 'don't worry, I always use these professional cleaners, they'll get it all out', and it's then the 'boy/girl' seating arrangements. Christ, why oh why do they always sit you next the most boring people in the entire known universe, these people bore for a living. Take it from me, if you ever get someone who makes cardboard boxes for a living intent on telling you everything about 'how too' and even the tensile strength of a gauge of cardboard, just stick a fork in their eye! There and then, just do it, the universe will be a better place for your actions and also you'll feel so much better. The only problem is you might get asked back as suddenly you have become an interesting guest! Amendment 1: also remember when stabbing a boring fart in the eye, use the correct cutlery. The book 'Forbes etiquette' has all the necessary information.
Phase three arrives like the black plague: the food! While I think 'burger van', on the whole, over the past ten years, this area has really improved!
Phase four is leaving after two hours of incredulous, crap, inane small talk, and, while keeping your food still inside your body is a result, sitting on a stool has taken on an whole new meaning, but that is to come as I'm still sat in the garden, drinking a really nice cuppa. I remark on the quality of the tea and I am pleased at the lack of response. I just can' help thinking this bloke is a fellow master of the tea, when I hear a tinkle of broken glass. The pair of us instantly duck below the top of our newspapers, and cock a deaf ear to the whole thing (phase three arrived quicker than expected). His missus is one of the bestest people I have ever met at a dinner party: our food is on trays and arriving to us in the garden, so we don't spoil the party mood and the cutlery! Not one word has passed our lips for an entire hour when, suddenly, I got 'I never got your name', he said. 'Jack', and yours?' I enquired. 'Bernard', came the reply, and then 'another tea?' 'Indeed', I replied.
A Civilised party at last!